Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Waiting and hoping

Posted by Jean Adams

So many things seem to take so long in research that I often find myself just waiting. Just waiting and hoping.

Obviously, I don’t just sit and wait and do nothing. I manage to find important and useful (I hope) things to fill my time whilst I wait. But at some deeper level I really am just waiting and trying not to be too distracted by the waiting.
Ian McKellan & Patrick Stewart in Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot', by Tristram Kenton

At the moment the waits that are preoccupying me most are decisions on a grant application and a paper.

The decision on the grant application has been made. I know this because the administrators were good enough to let me know that the funding board would meet to make a decision on 18th April. But then the decision would have to be ratified by the Department of Health, which would take about four or five weeks.

I know this all makes sense to somebody. And I know I can’t do anything about it. But come on! Five weeks to tell me about a decision that has already been made? After three months to make the decision. Is this supposed to be death by waiting? The researcher who can wait the longest without complaining gets the grant. I lose.

The paper is bothering me much more. Which is odd. If I don’t get the grant, there are no other options for funding the research. It just wont happen and that will be a couple of months of work down the drain. But if the paper isn’t accepted, I can try another journal. It’ll get published somewhere eventually (I hope). But I really want it to get published where I have sent it right now.

It isn’t even a research paper. It’s one of those 2000 word ‘analysis’ papers (AKA rants) saying something we’ve all thought for a while, but which only I had the patience to write down. Which makes it a bit like modern art – yes, anyone could have done it, but they didn’t.

The electronic submission system at the journal has flags to tell you what’s happened to your paper so far. They are pretty sparse, but informative enough to piece together a little story of my paper’s journey. It seems that my paper was initially considered by an editor who wasn’t quite sure about it and so sent it to another editor for a second opinion. But the second editor wasn’t sure either and so sent it to a further editor for a third opinion.

So far, not too promising.

But then the third editor (who maybe was a bit more senior than the other two and so found the decision easier to make?) agreed that the paper should be sent for peer review. Right now, the system tells me, the editors are looking for appropriate peer reviewers.

Which is nice. I have my fingers crossed for my little paper rant. I shall go on waiting. And hoping.

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